Seize the day | AUA Blog

Seize the day: one thing can lead to another | AUA Blog

When people ask about why they should join the AUA, what they get out of it, it can on occasion be hard to put into words, the tangible benefits we receive. Somehow, the cliché of ‘you get out what you put in’ never seems to make the sale, but it’s true! So this is an attempt to define some of the opportunities presented to us by the AUA, and a case study of how one thing can so often lead to another. It’s all about CPD.

The PG Cert and beyond

In 2013 when I joined the AUA, it was wholly to enrol on the PG Cert. This was my way of getting a postgraduate qualification, so often listed as desirable on job descriptions in Higher Education (HE). I didn’t really expect the PG Cert to add any value to me as an individual, so I was surprised when I came out at the end with a different perspective. The main surprise was how much I enjoyed it, challenging myself and learning new things. The knowledge assignments truly did increase my understanding of the HE sector, but I hadn’t considered how much this would impact my work. I was able to join in and contribute to workplace conversations that had previously felt closed to me. My improved comprehension made me more effective in my role, which was noticed by managers. Choosing to study about areas I didn’t already work in, I learned about a whole new area of HE administration, which I then used in an interview to get a promotion into a new department. I also became a reflective practitioner (another part of the PG Cert), which improved my personal effectiveness in the workplace.

So, when the opportunity arose a couple of years later, I jumped at the chance enrol onto the PG Diploma and following that, the MSc. Again, the content was directly relevant to the workplace, upskilling me, which led to further promotions (evidencing the return on investment to both myself and my institution). More importantly, I met some amazing friends on the course, who all work at different institutions around the country. This peer networking has enabled me to learn about other UK HEIs, comparing and contrasting strategy and practice to my own institution. It puts my own experiences in a much wider context and it’s great to have colleagues outside my institution to bounce ideas and problems off.

Perspectives, Conferences, Study Tours & Accreditation

The MSc finished with a practitioner focused research dissertation. Very subtly, they ask you as part of the course to submit a summary of your dissertation in the form of a journal article. So once you’ve graduated, it would be a waste not to submit it to Perspectives! After a little editing, I had my first article published*, something I never saw myself doing when I started the PG Cert.

It was at this point my new found friends and I got together and reflected on the impact our CPD had had on us, both personally and professionally. We decided it was time to give back, and we all signed up to the PG Cert mentor training. Hopefully, our experiences and knowledge can help the next batch of students. Furthermore, we arranged to host a session at the 2019 AUA Annual Conference. We used the session to both champion the importance of CPD and lifelong learning, as well as to share the results of our research from our MSc’s.

Oliver Cooper FAUA
Head of Strategic Projects & Administration
The University of Warwick

Completing the PG Cert automatically made me an Accredited Member of the AUA. Having completed the MSc, published an article in Perspectives, become a PG Cert mentor and hosted a session at the conference all in the last 12 months, it didn’t seem a big jump to apply for Fellowship. Fellowship accreditation is a great way to demonstrate your commitment to the sustained professional development of both yourself and others. Not only does it look great on the CV, but going through the process really helped me reflect on my experiences (reference back to being a reflective practitioner), taking a step back to review my growth and experience. Then, naturally, given my new found commitment to CPD, came the question… what next?! That’s when one of my MSc friends told me about their experiences on a previous AUA Study Tour, and suggested I apply for the upcoming one to Japan. All of the above, helped me to write a strong application, which meant in November 2019 I had the privilege to join the Japan Study Tour. Once again, I met some wonderful people from different UK HEIs, which meant I learnt as much about UK HE on the trip as I did about Japanese HE! An absolutely wonderful and fascinating experience, my next job is to help write the Study Tour report!


The last 12 months, have definitely been out of the norm, but hopefully it goes to show opportunities are out there, the AUA is there to support our professional development, and all we need to do is to seize the day (well, maybe a little luck and good timing too).

*AUA members can read Oliver’s full article by accessing the Perspectives journal through our web pages here.

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